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Equal parts sophisticated, outdoorsy, and rich with culture, Denver has exploded in recent years, drawing thousands of tourists and new residents who want to get to know the city close-up. It’s one of those destinations that seems to offer a lot of everything for everyone. Between the stately architecture, like the iconic Union Station building, the buzzing micro-brewery scene, the nearby Red Rocks Amphitheater, a navigable bike sharing system, and hip neighborhoods like RiNo, you’ll have no shortage of fun things to do in Denver, when you visit for a day.
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10:00 a.m.: Start the day in LoDo—lower downtown—at Mercantile Dining and Provisions for breakfast and coffee. This location leaves you perfectly situated for some architecture and museum touring. Stroll by Denver Union Station, an architectural gem of the city, and take a peek inside the beautiful Victorian buildings which now houses coffee houses, galleries, and shops.
11:00 a.m.: Grab one of the bikes from B-Cycle bike sharing program and head out to do some museum hopping. You’ll find expansive American Indian and Western art collections at the Denver Art Museum, abstract expressionist art at the Clyfford Still Museum, and a historic collection at the American Museum of Western Art. If you’re itching to get outside, you can take a little detour and bike down by the river (Denver happens to be home to an 85-mile network of trails). Pro tip: try and find the Big Blue Bear (it won’t be difficult).
12:00 p.m.: After biking and soaking up the city’s phenomenal art scene, you’ll probably be ready to eat. Head to the nearby neighborhood of Denver Highlands, where you’ll find eclectic restaurants and bars, boutiques and bookstores, and of course: REI. Sit for lunch at Avanti F&B, a dynamic restaurant space housed in a former shipping container that offers a few different dining and drinking options (they call it a modern-day food hall—it’s pretty awesome).
1:30 p.m.: Take a stroll after lunch in Sloan’s Lake Park, where you can take in the breathtaking views of surrounding mountain peaks, and even try out stand up paddle boarding if you’re up for it.
2:30 p.m.: We hope the walk made room for some brews, because a trip to Denver wouldn’t be complete without checking out the local microbrewery scene. There are many tours to choose from, both walking or driving. If you’re feeling adventurous, book a four-hour tour with Aspire Tours, the only brew tour to take guests (via van, leaving from Union Station) to three local craft breweries and up to the mountains just beyond the city. You’ll get to see the Rocky Mountain foothills and a beautiful canyon vista while learning about some local history, seeing old-school western towns, and trying out some delicious local beer. Another great option is the RiNo Beer and Graffiti tour through Denver Microbrew Tour. Guests will walk through the artsy, revitalized and industry-forward neighborhood of River North Art District (known locally as RiNo). It’s one of Denver’s coolest locales, and you’ll find bountiful street art and some of the best craft brews in the city.
6:30 p.m.: After getting your fill of local beer, head to City Park for dinner at Atelier, a stylish French-inspired restaurant founded by local chef Radek Cerny (his food has been lauded by critics and locals as “edible works of art”).
8:30 p.m.: Time to check out the jazz scene. Start the evening portion of your Denver tour at Dazzle, a low-lit, award-winning jazz lounge and supper club that has a calendar packed with top-tier musical performances daily—and a phenomenal food and drink menu, for good measure. Enjoy dessert and a craft cocktail while you soak up some of the best jazz vibes in the country. If you’re up for another bar before hittin’ the hay, try Saint Ellie, a chic speakeasy hidden below the elegant Colt & Gray (you’ll find the bar behind a glass door on Platte Street) located in the city’s bustling Riverfront neighborhood. You can also try to get into the particularly clandestine B&GC Speakeasy, located in the basement of Cherry Creek’s Halcyon Hotel—but this one is known to be a little tricker to gain access to.
10:00 p.m.: You’ll likely be ready for a restful snooze by the end of your jam-packed day. Check into the Ritz-Carlton, American Express Fine Hotel & Resort property, or the luxury Kimpton Hotel Born, close to Union Station, where you’ll find an “alpine modern luxury” vibe and sophisticated, rustic-meets-cozy accommodations.